Well for the third Monday in a row, my car was in the shop. The day after I was home from getting a new gas tank (and gas lines), we heard the horrible screech of the brake pads going. I already had a car repair anxiety headache from multiple car incidents in July, and the screeching sound made it piercing.

I've now added new brake rotors and pads to the list of things repaired or replaced in July (previously we fixed a hole in the muffler and got a new gas tank/gas lines). My Mom says it's like I got a whole new car. Hopefully she's right and these repairs last me for some time yet. Not sure what the repair cost limit will be for me, but I'm pretty sure I'll know the number when I hear it. Just don't want it to be anytime soon.

I wasn't the only one experiencing car grief this month. While waiting for my gas tank to be repaired, I borrowed dad's car, with the hope of catching a movie with my brother in law. The first stop I made (at the end of the driveway) the brake pedal went all the way to the floor...and the car did not stop. I hit it again and it still did not stop, so I looked down to see if I was accidentally hitting the gas (it is a very disorienting feeling not having the brakes work). I gave the brakes a third pump and the car stopped. I threw it in reverse and parked it and then got a really intense headache. Adrenaline is funny like that. Dad ended up needing entirely new brake lines, and we got to bond about all the money we were spending on our used cars. (I much prefer when we are bonding over music.)

Another car incident happened with John's aunt, who had her muffler detach on the way to his sister's wedding. His aunt had his mom in the car, so the Mother of the Bride was half an hour late to the ceremony. Never a dull moment!

With July ending, I now declare that weekly car repairs end with it. I've reached my quota of car stress for the year, and would now like to enjoy using it for a while before I have to worry about it again. Got that, Car???

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, July 31, 2013 4 comments
A few months ago my Mom got a take out menu for Dragon Wok Chinese Restaurant in her mail box. After going through the menu, she texted me all the different dishes and specials that we could get if I came over. By the end of the day, I think I had received the entire menu via text. I guess she was pretty excited about it!

So we finally went over to Dragon Wok last week and I got myself a lunch special. For $5.50 I got a good sized portion of food, really tasty chicken fried rice, Kung Pao chicken, and an egg roll. While I was there I noticed they also have some walk in specials, so we'll definitely be back for more sometime soon.

This post is part of Big Dude Likes Food #FoodPornFriday link up. Feel free to head on over to his blog and link up an awesome food post!

Posted by Jen B On Friday, July 26, 2013 6 comments
We had a family wedding on Saturday, held at a lovely cottage in Victoria Harbour. Family and friends helped cater a buffet, and after dinner coffee was provided by Tim Hortons. The awesome thing I learned about getting Timmies coffee catered in, is that there are loads of creamer, milk, and sugar leftovers. Which are all now in my house. Awesome.

Coffee is going to taste even better for the next little while. My usual coffee has whitener or milk, and on those rare occasions I use cream, I use the 5% kind. This stuff is 18% and it's adding some yummy bliss to my mornings. 

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, July 23, 2013 4 comments
We are a few months away from the third anniversary of purchasing our used car. We are also coming up on the car's tenth birthday. Our Mazda Protege is the first car I ever bought, I still love it immensely, and we are doing what we can to maintain it so we can keep driving it.

We purchased our car on a tip from a Mazda mechanic friend of my brother's, who let us know about a car his friend was selling. We got a super deal and a trusted mechanic in the process, and have been taking our car to Mazda for service and repairs ever since. We sometimes go to specialist mechanics (Tirebuster for tires) but we really love the service at Mazda, and they have a 'service rewards' program so all of our repairs usually end with a free oil change coupon.

We had an exhaust leak over the past few months, which presented itself in both sound and heavy exhaust fumes in and around the car. We booked a diagnostic last Monday for Mazda to check it out and they provided me with some pretty stellar customer service. Instead of advising that Mazda fix our muffler (of which they quoted me parts starting at $500 and labour that would add many more dollars to that), they recommended I go to a muffler repair place, and gave me directions to the one they trusted. They even told me to use them as a reference and said: "this is the most cost effective way for you to repair your vehicle". It blew me away that they recommended a more cost effective repair than they could offer, especially since that meant they were recommending I give my money to someone else!

So I took directions and went to Carline Muffler, who were able to check out my car within half an hour and fix it in about the same time. They quoted me "about sixty bucks", which sounded much better than the upwards of $1000 repair job I was looking at through Mazda. Plus everyone was super nice and I've now made some muffler mechanic friends, which will come in handy as my car continues to age. The muffler mechanic also noticed that I had a fuel leak, though he couldn't tell where it was coming from and recommended I get it checked out. He even let me know he had to remove my muffler to weld it "safely", as welding under a car with a gas leak is pretty dangerous.

So my inexpensive muffler repair directed me towards a new problem. So the excessive exhaust smell in the car was actually the exhaust leak AND a gas leak. Double the fun.

With my muffler repaired, I stopped it at Mom and Dad's to figure out my next car repair move. Dad recommended I go to The Gas Tank Doctor, a specialist mechanic he trusted. It was a little after 4pm, but I gave them a call and asked if they could check it out (they closed at 5), and they told me to "come on over".

Turns out fuel is leaking from the seam of the gas tank and we need a new one. Everyone was really nice and I was quoted a good price from my new gas tank mechanic friend. All told, the muffler repair and the gas tank replacement are going to be cheaper than the original muffler repair quote that Mazda steered me away from. How about that. I'm taking the car over this afternoon and I'm looking forward to driving it home with that new "doesn't smell like gas fumes" car smell.

I have to say that everyone who helped me or offered advice last Monday was super nice and doing their best to save me money. I know as my car ages I will have to periodically take it in for repairs, and it is very comforting to know I have a number of different mechanics that I can trust (and who are also super nice!). I know they can help me keep this car running for as long as possible.

Gary liked the car repair deals too. She had a nice nap on the receipts.
Posted by Jen B On Monday, July 22, 2013 4 comments

Somehow this photo was taken five years ago. Somehow this precious little baby is now five years old. How did this happen!?! This is my niece Liz and she is pretty amazing. This is a photo of her wondering what the hell just happened, as she is only about three hours old. Now she is five. I don't remember five years passing. And I especially don't remember being five years older. Maybe there is some sort of time distortion thing happening. I will look into it.

However it may have happened, I'm wishing this sweet little girl a wonderful 5th birthday!

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, July 21, 2013 4 comments

I don't eat out that often anymore, but food like this makes me wish I did. I was running errands in Barrie on Monday which ended with Mom and I spontaneously going to Applebee's. We must go there more often than I think, as I earned a free meal on my frequent diners card. Win! I was going to get something expensive for my free meal, but I saw the picture of the Tuscan Portobello Burger and had to have it. I love the flavour of the burgers at Applebee's, and this one was topped with giant pieces of portobello mushrooms, swiss cheese, bacon bits, sundried tomato mayo, and (my favourite) onion strings.

Perhaps I will have to fill a new frequent diners card with more of these!

This post is part of Big Dude Likes Food #FoodPornFriday link up. Feel free to head on over to his blog and link up an awesome food post!
Posted by Jen B On Friday, July 19, 2013 6 comments

There is a Chihuahua in my house!
John's sister is getting married on Saturday, so she and her bride to be flew in from Vancouver on Monday night with their dog Alex. They've rented a cottage and are getting it set up for the wedding, and they left this little guy to run around our house. John just loves him.

Alex is a great little dog. He is so quiet and easy going. He is also smaller than Gary, which is pretty adorable to witness. Speaking of which, this is the look Gary gave when Alex came into her space:

"Are you guys serious??" Don't worry Gary, it's just for a few days. Alex and Gary have met before and she is actually really easy going around him. She's not scared or territorial, mostly just curious about who is running around trying to eat her food.

I think they are going to be good buddies.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, July 17, 2013 9 comments

Numbers are pretty cool. I like when they line up in fun ways, like when the time is 12:34pm or the date is 11/12/13. It's fun. I knew I had a string of numbers coming up on my odometer, and with a trip to Barrie yesterday, I knew it was going to happen. I was ready with my camera and a mental note of how many KM I had left before I hit it.

I had about 19 km to go when I left Mom's last night. I Google mapped where that would put me on my drive home, and kept my eye on the odometer. About 2 km from the number string, I turned down a side road and drove out of the way for a klick, feeling far more comfortable taking pictures on a lightly traveled side road than on the main highway. If you were driving around Fergusonvale last night, I was the one on the side of the road taking photos of her dashboard.

Here it my Number Nerd string in all it's glory:

I learned about Number Nerd being a thing from Anne Wheaton, so obviously I had to tweet her my photo. The following is her response, which I love forever.

Isn't life fun?

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, July 16, 2013 8 comments
It's Saturday, but I'm linking up to Big Dude Likes Food's #FoodPornFriday link up, so let's not worry about what day it is and just enjoy the photo, okay? :p

Back in October, I went to Cold Stone Creamery three times. In Canada you can find them in certain Tim Hortons restaurants, and my frequent visits were because of an awesome coupon deal they had going. Buy a regular sized ice cream and pay for the small size. So the amazing looking ice cream in this photo was only $3.36 (and that includes the extra $0.50 I paid to get a waffle bowl).

If you have never been to a Cold Stone or Marble Slab type ice cream place, they have really fresh ice cream and they mix whatever ingredients you want into it. I went to the one in Wasaga Beach and they make the ice cream right in the back. The Wasaga Beach Cold Stone is in a 24 hour Tim Hortons, so if I wanted crazy ice cream at 3:00am, that is totally where I would go.

If memory serves the ice cream pictured is the All Lovin' No Oven flavour, which is Cake Batter ice cream, pieces of cookie dough, whipped topping, and fudge. I got it served in the pink waffle bowl, obviously.

Posted by Jen B On Saturday, July 13, 2013 6 comments

Here is a sunset photo my brother Dave took at my brother Tommy's farm last fall. Neat how a photo of nature can make you think about family.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, July 12, 2013 8 comments

Just a quick post before I head outside and enjoy this perfect weather.

It is 21°C, feels like 26°C, and with a light breeze it is perfect for bike riding. Can't wait to get out there. This past week it's been upwards of 30°C, feels like 37°C, and even though I went for some rides, the heat adds an extra challenge to staying out too long. The farthest I've gone this summer is 9km, so I'm planning on a longer ride today.

It is also perfect weather for going to the Drive-In. Tonight is "carload" night, which is two movies for only $8 per car. Super movie deal! Tonight's features are World War Z and This Is The End. I have little to no expectations for World War Z, other than I think Brad Pitt is the best and I hope the zombies aren't too scary. I am really looking forward to This Is The End, as it has most of the funny people I like and has a cameo by Emma Watson. Hope it's as fun as I want it to be!

World War Z Trailer:

This Is The End Trailer:

Whatever you are doing on this sunny day, I hope you are having a good one!

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, July 11, 2013 8 comments
Before I made the Reese's fudge, I had 24 peanut butter cups just sitting on my baking shelf waiting to be used. Social plans were changed, so I had to delay making the fudge and I also had to keep myself from snacking on the peanut butter cups. When I went to make the fudge, somehow there were only 18 of the 24 peanut butter cups left. To be fair, I'm rather proud that I only ate 6, as they were sitting in my house for a few weeks.

I have a few recipes I want to make this summer, and already have a lot of the ingredients on hand, which is becoming a daily test for me. The Oreos and marshmallow fluff like to call my name periodically, and it gets me thinking about how delicious they are, and how we could always just pick up another bag of Oreos if they got eaten. I have to force myself to remember that I love baking and pretty soon there will be some sort of reason to bake something awesome. And tell myself to just leave the ingredients alone.

One day soon I might have to put a drape over the baking shelf so I forget what's on it.

This is my (almost) current stash of baking supplies. Since this photo was taken, the Reese cups have vanished (why are they so good?). Not pictured in this pile of awesome are my candy melts (which are temptingly bite sized), my four cans of sweetened condensed milk, a giant thing of cream cheese (for icing purposes), and a few more cake mixes that wouldn't fit in the photo.

Wish me luck friends! Or invite me over so I can make something awesome out of this stuff! :)

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, July 10, 2013 4 comments
A few weeks ago I told you about Salted Butterscotch fudge, and Reese's fudge is even better. It's another Crazy for Crust recipe, and I'm probably going to make all of her fudge recipes throughout the summer.

Behold Reese's fudge:

I brought it to a BBQ and blew everyone's mind. Even though I shared it with friends, I still ate an absurd amount of it (the recipe makes about 1kg). I'm always a huge fan of baked goods that have chocolate bars in them, and I was a giant fan of this.

Reese's Fudge: Find the original recipe here.

Ingredients: 3 cups chocolate chips, 1 can sweetened condensed milk,
18 snack size Reese Peanut Butter Cups, 1 cup chopped peanuts, 1 tsp vanilla
Place Reese's cups in even layer in a greased and lined 8x8 baking dish
Add sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips to saucepan over medium heat
Heat and stir until melted together. Remove from heat. Mix in 1 tsp vanilla 
and pour over Reese's cups. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and cool. 
I was too excited about fudge making and forgot to take photos. Food Blogger Problems. :)

Take to a BBQ and impress your friends!

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, July 07, 2013 4 comments

Surfing Saturday: a weekly round up of some of my favourite links on the interwebs.

4th of July

I hope everyone is having a great weekend. If you wanted to bake something special for the holiday, there were tonnes of ideas online. Quite a few blogs had 4th of July idea round ups, with many treats, and sweets, and ideas to impress your guests. There were cake pops, and cake pops, and cake pops, and even Rice Krispies pops if you wanted to celebrate with treats on a stick. There were also cookies, and cookies, and more cookies in case you wanted to try some festive decorating. There were cakes, and cupcakesand other cakes, and tips for decorating. There was an assortment of red white and blue items, including beverages, jello, and strawberries.

Canada Day

We Canadians love festive treats too, and there were some neat recipes and ideas to be found. There were flag cheesecake bars, festively decorated cookies, more festively decorated cookies, and some maple bacon cupcakes (very Canadian). I even made some Canada Day cupcakes (and they were really good!). We also have a lot of civic pride, and here is a great list of awesome things to love about Canada.

Have a great weekend everyone! :)

Posted by Jen B On Saturday, July 06, 2013 6 comments

Everything is a Photo Opportunity is a showcase of awesome photos. Anything that has caught my eye, either with my camera in hand, or that I found surfing the web.

A few summers ago a hot air balloon landed near my brother's farm. I've always loved hot air balloons. I remember going to a hot air balloon festival when I was a kid and seeing so many different colours and shapes in the sky. Very beautiful.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, July 05, 2013 4 comments
Happy Independence Day!! These are some festive cupcakes I made a few years ago.
Wishing all my American friends and followers an amazing long weekend! :)

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, July 04, 2013 6 comments

Like I've mentioned before, I like to walk or ride on the rail trail near my place. It has all the joys of being 'in the woods' but is also right beside a major roadway, so I don't have to worry about bears. Periodically the trail crosses roads or driveways, but there is good signage that lets you know well ahead of time. 

I recently encountered some friendly motorists at one of the trail crossings. On both my way through and on my way back, two different drivers stopped at the trail crossing (which is not a required stop) and waved for me to cross ahead of them. The distance between the trail crossing and the actual stop sign is not that far (see photo), so I wouldn't have had to wait very long if they went first, but their random act of kindness made my day.

I don't know if they stopped because I'm in the country, or if the drivers were just feeling super friendly, or what. Whatever the reason, it was a nice thing to do! :)

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, July 03, 2013 5 comments
Paula over at Call Me PMc recently posted her recipe for stuffed crust pizza. I love pizza in all of its forms, and this looked too amazing not to try. We have pizza about once a week around here and sometimes like add some variety to it (see panzerottos).

Click over to Call Me PMc to see her original recipe for stuffed crust pizza.

Here is how I made mine:

I started with my regular pizza dough (via our breadmaker).

Next, I cut up pieces of mozzarella and lined the inside edge of the pizza dough with it, and folded over the edge to cover the cheese.

Yay! A stuffed pizza dough!

Then topped and baked the pizza as I normally do.

Then I basked in the glory of having made a homemade stuffed crust pizza!

It was a really tasty variety of pizza, although John says next time we should double the cheese. I think we should put some pepperoni in there too. Lots of fun to be explored with this type of pizza. Thanks to Call Me PMc for the amazing idea!

More Pizza Posts:

Rectangle Pizza
Pizza Friday
Taco Meat Pizza

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, July 02, 2013 6 comments

Happy 146th Birthday Canada! 

So obviously I made cupcakes to celebrate. I got some really festive maple leaf sprinkles at Bulk Barn and made some white chocolate maple leaves for cupcake toppers. It was my first time making a chocolate cake topper, and I have to say I just love them. I've been super inspired by all the amazing chocolate decorating over at Sugar Swings! Serve Some, and I followed her method for how to make these maple leaves. I printed out the image I wanted, taped it to the table, and put a piece of parchment paper over top. Then I just traced the image underneath using melted chocolate. Once hardened, I flipped the chocolate piece over and showcased the flat side. I love the way they look and I can't wait to try it again.

If you are on a long weekend, I hope you are having a great one! Cheers!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, July 01, 2013 2 comments
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